Do you ever feel like you learn about God’s character through parenting? You look at your own reaction to something with your kids and realize, wow, if I feel this way, and I’m most definitely not God, how much more or better or awesome is God at this, as our heavenly parent? This week, I learned something about the grace of God through stolen cookies.
Ana: Mom, can I have a cookie?
Ana: How many?
I watched as she grabbed two, hid one behind her back, and showed me the one in her outstretched hand.
I knew, and the look in her eyes said she knew that I knew. I sighed, took both cookies from her, the offered one and the illicit one, and said quietly. “Sweetheart, the most important thing to me is trust. We have to be able to trust each other.” I half-smiled at her sadly, and she turned and walked away.
A few minutes later, I heard her sobs welling louder and louder. I heard, “Mommy?” I went looking for her and didn’t see her. “Ana, where are you?” “Under the pee-nan-o.”
I sat down in the chair next to the piano and patted the seat. She crawled out from under the bench and slumped next to me. I hugged her, kissing the top of her sweaty head over and over, saying, “I love you so much, honey, all the time, all the time.” She sobbed louder and louder, “I’m sorry, Mommy! I’m sorry I lied!” “It’s okay. I forgive you. Thank you for being sorry. Thank you.”
Her complete remorse broke me in two, and also filled me with deep joy-pain. I kept waiting for her to ask me for the cookie, but she didn’t. She just wanted to mend the relationship and regain what we’d lost. I felt the loss of trust and pain of deception, but delighted in her desire to get right with me, that she loved me enough to want my forgiveness.
I know it’s just a cookie, but it’s also a huge moment in my relationship with my new daughter as we develop and earn and work out this idea of trust. It takes time to learn respect and obedience and freedom from fear.
And what a picture of us and God, how He pursues us with His forgiveness and grace. When we cry out to Him, He seeks us out, finds us under the piano bench, and pulls us into Him.
Sometimes I worry that God gets mad at me, stays mad at me, like He’s mulling over my colossal screw ups (so much worse than a stolen cookie) and smoldering about how I messed up. But it says in Psalm 103:12, “as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” That’s far.
If I’m an imperfect parent and welcomed my daughter into my arms, how much more does He long to give us His grace, how much more does He want to wipe away our tears? At the first sob, I wanted nothing more than to reach out to Ana and make her feel better, forgiven, loved and restored and the full lightness of grace lifting her up. I was thrilled for her contrition, and immediately wanted to wrap my arms around her.
And so does God. His grace is perfect and His love is infinite.
For this is what the high and exalted One says—
He who lives forever, whose name is holy:
“I live in a high and holy place,
but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly
and to revive the heart of the contrite.
I will not accuse them forever,
nor will I always be angry,
for then they would faint away because of me—
the very people I have created.
This morning, I am grateful for a tender, loving God, and for His grace as I stumble and fall and learn how to parent with graciousness. I’m thankful for lessons found in cookies and tears of reconciliation under piano benches.